Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 12
WAGS was lucky to have Barbara Randall give two presentations at our April meeting. In the morning, we learned about the usefulness of Local History books in our research. They can be found at local libraries and Historical societies, Genealogical Societies and Family History Centers. However, she explained that many of these types of books are out of copyright and available to view and download online.
They can contain Vital Records, Anecdotal stories, Veterans lists, Land ownership maps, History of the County and Pictures. They often include biographical sketches, such as on www.Books.Familysearch.org
, I did a search for “The History of Erie County” and I found a lengthy write up of Jacob Lunger, a shoemaker, who earned enough money to buy land in Waterford, PA. So now I need to look at land records in Erie County.
Where did your ancestor immigrant from? www.Books.Google.com
has the “The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio”; it states that the Humason family recently emigrated from New Haven, Connecticut. The “Biographical Record of Rock Island County, Illinois” published in 1897, discusses the Revolutionary War service in Massachusetts of Captain John Black. So I need to look at military records.
, is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. I found the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the “Woodbridge and vicinity: the story of a New Jersey township” for the 1600’s to 1700’s. Also, www.WorldCat.org
has 2 billion items and tells you where to find them in a local library or where to ask for an inter-library book loan. I found the “Biographical and Genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois” which is housed in the Los Angeles Public Library.
Barbara’s afternoon session illustrated the benefit of asking the “How” and “Why” to obtain context of our ancestor’s lives. She suggested reviewing all the artifacts and records; analyzing and interpreting how and why of documents; and researching what is missing and where to go next.
A good way to start is to create a timeline of the basic facts of an ancestor. Then, to add context try the website www.historylines.com
, it offers two free stories of an ancestor’s lives and gives very interesting details based upon birth year and place and death year and place including items such as: wars, newspapers, education, hygiene, clothing, religion, marriage customs, diet, medicine, military, transportation, communications, politics, commerce, natural disasters, and financial crashes.
Remember when you are doing newspaper research to read the whole issue, not just the one article on your ancestor. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
is a free site that is always being updated. And remember to search by town name, initials, adding Mr. and Mrs. and significant anniversary or birthdates. I found an article about my civil war veteran ancestor titled “Comrade Samuel B. Owens celebrates his 92nd
birthday” in 1921.
Lastly, to get a geographically perspective try Google Earth to view your ancestor’s villages to see rivers, mountains, and distances between towns to see perhaps logically why a migration occurred. Also, look at plat maps to see the names of all the neighbors since these are likely marriage candidates.
WAGS welcomed Colleen Greene at our March meeting. She made wonderful suggestions on how to paint a bigger picture of Hispanic Ancestors’ lives. She gave insight on thinking about the social life and customs that focused on everyday lives of ordinary people.
She pointed us to https://www.calisphiere.org
if your roots run deep in California history; this is a digital collection from California’s great libraries, archives and museums. Did your ancestors live in Tulare County? The Sesquicentennial Photograph Collection consists of images derived from photographs contributed by individuals in the community and local museums. The photos were selected mainly for their historical interest. They represent various aspects of life in Tulare County. The photos date from 1860's to 1990's.
For a national search, try https://dp.la/
, The Digital Public Library of America. The website has 28,545 oral history interviews. There are interviews of military veterans that span the history of the US, including children of Civil War veterans. Was your ancestor a 1900’s miner, teamster or a machinist? There are over 600 interviews with people about these working conditions. Oklahoma pioneers were interviewed in the 1930’s by the WPA. These are people born in the early 1860’s!
Do you have a probate packet that includes an inventory of possessions? Think about using the “Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993” on www.Ancestry.com
to see pictures of items listed such as a Hay Rake, a Beaver Shawl, and a Cobbler Seat Rocker. Also, figure out the freight rate to buy from Sears and have it shipped to your ancestor’s home; there was no Amazon Prime.
I was delighted to present a class on Naturalization Records for our immigrant ancestors. Naturalization of US Aliens started in 1790 and the residency laws changed many times over the years. Military service could speed up the process. The documentation created in the process can be useful to genealogists. The forms generated after the year 1906 provide the most detailed family information, including place of birth, year and place of immigration, names and birth dates of spouses and children.
Women and children are special cases and until the late 1920’s, they obtained derivative citizenship from their husbands and fathers. And women could lose their citizenship, even if they were born in the United States but married a foreign born man from 1907 to 1922. The reverse was not true for men.
Federal and State Census questions can help narrow down that date of naturalization. Check out Homestead Files, since at least
of Letter of Intent was needed to purchase land. The resources on the www.FamilySearch.org
can include Letters of Intent, Petitions of Citizenship and Naturalization Certificates for all 50 states.
At our February 17th morning class, we had a panel discussion by four WAGS board members, Kristina Newcomer, Christine Cohen, Marilyn McCarty, and Rick Frohling. Program Director, Roger Mount moderated the panel with questions about their research journey.
Kristina Newcomer shared a Bridal Souvenir book with birth, marriage and death information, a Swedish Bible from her Great Aunt Alfie Ostman, a German Prayer book detailing the reasons for her GGGGrandfather’s decision to come to America, and a “Grandmother Remembers” journal. Ask your relatives if ANYONE has these types of items hiding in their closets or attics. They can be a gold mine for genealogists. Make it known that you are the family historian so nothing gets discarded.
Rick Frohling shared that city directories led to information about unknown marriages. Since these often provide the husband and wife’s name and place of employment. A good website for online resources is https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa .As an example, if you look at 1936 Boise, Idaho directory you will find Sherman, Virgil (Harriett F) Bellman Hotel Boise H 425 Jefferson St. Apt. 41.
Marilyn McCarty told of being a family historian, who loves to learn about the family stories. She and her sister learned unknown details of their mother’s life when they found of box of old family papers. This is the only place where these family vital records are found. If you are interested in journaling family stories come to the March 17th meeting to learn about software to get you started https://www.rootsmagic.com/Personal-Historian/Essentials/
I spoke about https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page which should be the primary website to learn about genealogy resources. They are digitizing records every day and I found the 1825 Washington County, NY State Census images are available to browse. I was able to locate my ancestor John A Cline and his brother Milton Cline. This helped me narrow down a marriage date based on the ages of the children listed.
Our afternoon speaker Gregory Beckman told the story of the 3 Beckmann brothers from Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. We learned how he corrected the information of the headstone of Civil War Veteran Augustus Beckmann, who was buried as Augustus Bergman at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. He fought in the battle of Shiloh, was taken as a POW and died at Camp Dennison, Ohio.
Greg found a newspaper article in the Cincinnati Commercial Times, dated April 19, 1862 about the USS Monarch that brought the Confederate POWS to Ohio. Did you have POW ancestor? Check https://www.newspapers.com/ to see if there is an article about their arrival at a POW camp. Greg used the resources on https://www.fold3.com/ for the service records and muster rolls as documentation of the burial error.
Camp Chase is considered a National Cemetery and CSA soldiers are considered veterans. Camp Chase therefore, falls under the umbrella of the National Cemetery Administration https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/grants/veterans_cemeteries.asp In December 2015, Greg provided them ten items to demonstrate their headstone error. And by December 2016 a corrected headstone with the name Augustus Beckmann was installed in the cemetery.
At the January meeting WAGS welcomed for the first time John Garside, TV Station Manager at the City of Whittier. He has over 20 years of professional experience in TV production. If you visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_aWR3-YwGsgCk_f1Zky43Q
you can for free watch a dozen “Forgotten Tales” that focus on the little known history in and around Rancho La Puente and Whittier.
He shared with WAGS members video clips and told interesting stories about the Whittier Earthquake in 1987 where he interviewed the famous “Mustang” owner; The Battle of Providencia that has a battle recreation that includes a real cannon being fired; Gay’s Lion Farm that had over 250 lions kept in the City of El Monte; The Electrodome about trying to manipulate the weather with lightning bolts; and the Crash of Flight 416 where he found plane parts in Turnbull Canyon.
Have you ever explored https://www.youtube.com/
to see if other historians have uploaded videos about your ancestor or communities that you are researching? I searched for “Woodbridge, New Jersey History” where my Freeman family lived. It had over 3,000 results including uploads from the Historical Association, the Salamander Brick Works and 350 Years of New Jersey History. How about ethnic groups? Try a search for “Palatines”. You get 1,210 results about German Palatines, Mohawk River, and Pennsylvania German American Culture. Plus a search of “Genealogy” has 236,000 results. There are videos form NARA.gov, BYU FHL, and Ancestry.com. You can spend all day watching, learning and expanding your research skills from your home.
After 1820, lists are available with limited information such as name, age, year and place of arrival. “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500’s – 1900’s”
by William Filby can be a good starting point and it is searchable on www.Ancestry.com
The biggest port of entry is New York, especially after 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal. However, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans should be researched. Look for clues as to the date of entry in Federal and State censuses, Voter Lists and Homestead applications.
WAGS had a wonderful Pot Luck and Show & Tell at our December 2017 meeting. Members brought delicious salads and desserts, plus there were yummy meatballs for all! Then, we had interesting and varied presentations by five WAGS members.
Bonnie Morris was very excited about receiving a February 2017 magazine, some of which was in Swedish, about customizing cars entitled “Gasoline”. It contained stories of the lives of her still living relatives Forey (age 104) and Glen (age 100) Wall who owned a car lot on Firestone Blvd. in South Gate. The magazine had many photos of the cars that they have customized. If you like custom cars, as well as genealogy, check out http://gasolinemagazine.se/
LeRae Phillips gave us a lesson in DNA research as she “thinks” she has located her birth father. She used DNA tests and the website https://www.gedmatch.com/
to triangulate a likely match. She then used genealogy research to go back in time to locate a likely grandfather and then go forward in time to find living descendants. She has located a likely half-sister and is just waiting for the DNA tests to confirm her conclusions. Her persistence has hopefully paid off after many years of searching. If you have questions about DNA testing, perhaps ask LeRae since she has immersed herself in this great genealogy resource that we all should be using.
I showed WAGS members a letter sent to my Grandfather Rufus Cline in South Dakota from Freeman Loomis of New York City, NY in 1917. Mr. Loomis appears to have been an avid genealogist who provided two pedigree charts of my Bloodgood and Freeman ancestors. This gave me a great head start in my genealogy research when I began in 1977, after watching Alex Haley’s miniseries “Roots” on television. All of his research has proven to be accurate. These were both prolific families who had many descendants in New York and New Jersey. I used his research to help me obtain acceptance in the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames http://www.hollanddames.org/
in 2015, as a descendant of Frans Bloodgood, a resident of New Netherlands prior to 1674.
Tracy Winkler used the resources on the genealogy website https://www.myheritage.com
to find information about Edward Tracy Bemis and his wife Nina Baer who had married in 1908. She located, to her great surprise, based on a newspaper story that Nina was divorced and Edward was her 2nd
husband. “The Billings Gazette” in 1907 had a story that “Mrs. Halpin wants to be Free and Says so, that’s All”
. She had married Thomas Halpin in 1906 and wanted a divorce by 1907.
Our last presentation was by Roger Mount about publishing his memoirs, which he wrote in 1984. He plans to use www.Blurb.com
. If you are ready to publish your memoirs and photos in book form consider using this website. He said it is easy to download the software and then choose a size, paper quality and cover type. They have plenty of choices for pricing for any budget. WAGS is looking forward to seeing the finished product at the next “Show & Tell”.
WAGS was delighted to welcome John V. Richardson Jr. PhD/UCLA Professor Emeritus of Information Studies at our November meeting. He presented a case study combining DNA test results and a paper trail to solve a genealogy brick wall problem. He made a very convincing case using results from the DNA testing website https://www.23andme.com/
and many years of paper research to claim a distant ancestor. He reminds us that each of our GGGG-grandparents contributed 1.56% of your DNA, roughly. So those matches far back in time are very tiny and need a lot of paper trails to perhaps find the right person. A great resource to upload the test results from 23andMe, Ancestry and FTDNA is https://www.gedmatch.com
to compare with a large database of data that has been voluntarily uploaded by other testers. He suggested reviewing the website of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) at https://isogg.org/
. Their mission statement is to “Advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research while promoting a supportive network for genetic genealogists”.
If you were intrigued and want to learn more about DNA, consider attending the SCGS Genetic Genealogy day on May 31st
held in Burbank. It will have over 30 sessions by nationally known experts that cover every aspect of DNA research from beginner to advanced level.
Make sure you use the resources on https://www.dar.org/
, Social Security Death Index, WWI and WWII Draft Registrations, unusual Surname websites and First Family websites to go forward in time to find cousins. These cousins could have inherited the family Bible or ancestors photos. Often times the youngest child inherited these items since they took care of their elderly parents. Plus, you want to make it known that you are the family historian and will be a “good home” to any papers or research that a cousin may possess. Also, you may be lucky and find a research partner who shares your passion for genealogy.
Our morning class presenter, Pat Chavarria gave us insights about the resources that are unique at Historical Societies and Museums. She suggested expanding your research parameters. Make sure to visit these museums when you visit you ancestor’s hometown. They may have photos or displays that give understanding and context to the town’s and your ancestor’s history. Online, try the website http://www.preservationdirectory.com/HistoricalPreservation/Home.aspx
. It has a listing of 4,500 historical societies in North America, and 7,000 history museums and house museums.
I found for the State of Wisconsin, the website https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/
. It has many online records and databases. I located a newspaper clipping about my ancestor Francis Clyma, who opened the first hotel in Monticello, Wisconsin in 1836. His grandson Newell Ebenezer Combs is listed in the Military Collection in a Regiment book on the 22nd
Regiment Company G in the Civil War. Also it gives Newell’s hometown, date of enlistment and when he mustered out. These books list soldiers who were killed and wounded at each battle by regiment.
For Connecticut there is the http://www.newhavenmuseum.org/
it has a town map of 1641 of New Haven that shows the land owned by my immigrant ancestor Richard Hull. Ashtabula, Ohio has the 2nd
oldest historical society in Ohio established in 1838. Http://www.ashtcohs.com/
has a wonderful set of articles by the “Log Cabin Club” written in 1915, by people who lived in log cabins in that county as youngsters in the early 1800’s. I visited the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/fort-pitt/
, it had a display of the names of colonial prisoners exchanged in the French and Indian Wars. Was your ancestor in that area in 1756-1763, perhaps they are on these lists?
In the afternoon, we welcomed Bill Beigel, who instructed WAGS members on how to research our WWII service men and women. We learned about the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). This document can contain details of the service of your ancestor. It will likely take months to obtain and can cost about $ 70.00. The fire in St. Louis in 1973 destroyed a majority of the files for Army and Air Force personnel for the surnames after letter B. However, Bill suggested at least make a request and see if you can get lucky. The After Action Report (AAR) is another resource to inquire about, these document the combat operations of specific commands and units in active theaters.
Visit NARA https://www.archives.gov/research/military/veterans
to get started. Online items available to view range from the American Revolution Pension and Bounty land records, Plans and sketches of Civil War Forts, Military Service Records from the Spanish-American War, Collection of WWI photographs, WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualties Lists, and pictures of United States Navy Ships (1775-1941).
I am sure all of you have hit brick walls in your research. I feel I have utilized many of the traditional resources and need to broaden my research scope. So lately I have been investigating manuscript collections. These are often documents, photos, registers, and vital records donated by individuals or organizations. They can be unique and not found anywhere else except at that archive or library. Plus the items themselves are usually not digitized and you have to use a finding aid to get details about what is included. Then, you must email or call the institution to have them assist you in reviewing the item.
Try looking at ArchiveGrid at https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/
. I entered the name “Clyma” in the search box and got two results. One was a collection held by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies https://www.butlercenter.org/
It has photographs of the 3rd
Missouri Calvary Company I in the US Civil War. One photograph is of my ancestor William Henry Clyma. He was born in Wisconsin and died in Missouri. I see no connection to Arkansas. I am able to then click on the link and contact them to see if I can obtain a copy of the photo.
I then tried a location search for “Woodbridge, New Jersey” and got 158 results, including Arthur Adams collection 1770-1911, that has deed and court records of the “Tappen Family” housed at the http://www.atlanticcountyhistoricalsocietynj.org/index.php
. And remember to use the Summary View of the results to narrow them down by surname, location, time frame etc...
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection is located at https://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/
I tried a search using a surname and a county for “Bellinger and Schoharie”. This listed 2 boxes of legal and estate papers in housed in the New York archives. A search of collateral surnames is a must since you never know what a cousin or in-law may possess about your ancestor. So I searched for the “Phippen” family of Massachusetts and found a listing for 6 linear feet about them in the “Barton Family Papers”.
The FamilySearch.org wiki https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page
has over 2,200 search results for “Manuscript Collections”. A very popular one is the Draper Manuscript Collection pertaining to the frontier history and settlement of the old Northwest and Southwest Territories of the United States from the 1740s to 1830.It has 491 volumes of genealogical and historical notes, land records, newspaper clippings, and interview notes.
I hope everyone was inspired by WAGS August speaker Sara Cochran to get their family photos organized and digitized. Sara presented us with the history of photography so we could narrow down photo dates based on their unique production period. One example is Kodak started offering KodaColor in 35mm film in 1958.
She then suggested a list of supplies to help organize photos by decade, then by year, then by month. She said scrapbooking items work great. Make a timeline with your genealogy research to label photos. Remember to ask your family members to help with little details in a photo that may help date and identify the people or places. Since I am the youngest in my family, my much older brother and sister can remember events better than me.
We learned about “Metadata”. Per www.Wikipedia.com ”may be written into a digital photo file that will identify who owns it, copyright and contact information, what brand or model of camera created the file, along with exposure information (shutter speed, f-stop, etc.) and descriptive information, such as keywords about the photo, making the file or image searchable on a computer and/or the Internet.”
To learn more, watch a webinar by Thomas MacEntee http://flip-pal.com/videos/webinars/metadata/
Are you just not up the task of digitizing your 10,000photos? Sara suggested scanning services like www.clickscanshare.com/
that will create and organize the files for you for a fee.
Sara gave us a wonderful idea about checking in the society and local gossip column pages of old newspapers to see if a family get together was mentioned. Did your grandparents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary? Do you have photos from this event but can’t identity the people? Perhaps there was a party that made the papers and listed all the relatives and guests who attended.
I went back in my files and calculated 25th
wedding dates. I then looked in the http://rockrapids.advantage-preservation.com/
for the name McKee in 1932. I found an announcement of a party for their silver wedding anniversary. This can now accompany a photo of the event.
At the July WAGS meetings we had our “Show and Tell” by four members. Terry Berg displayed the photos restored by the 2017 WAGS exhibitor “Picture Perfect Photo Retouching & Copy”, their website is http://www.pictureperfectphoto.net/
. Deborah Mohr did a wonderful job of restoring Terry’s photos and if you go to the website, the lovely girl in the white dress on the left side with the long blond girls, you can see for yourself. Consider getting those old photos made beautiful again by a professional so they can be passed down to your heirs.
If you have photos that you don’t know who is pictured or if you have rescued photos from a garage sale, consider posting them on websites like http://www.deadfred.com/index.php
. You can search by surname or place. If you do a search for Whittier, CA there are some interesting old photos from the 1930’s to 1940’s of Whittier residents.
Our next presenter was Jo Hurdle; she shared an original Civil War Discharge Document from a person that is not in her family tree. She has spent a lot of time trying to understand why this important paper ended up with her family papers. She has a small lead but she is still researching. I am sure this veteran’s Fry descendants would like to get this document back.
After my father passed away, we found a few graduation photos that he must have exchanged with fellow graduates in 1943 from Torrance High School. I took the time to research trees on Ancestry and FamilySearch to locate any living descendants. I was able to reunite all the photos except for one. All the families were delighted and grateful to obtain the photo. So if anyone knows the family of Ralph Wolfe born about 1925, I would love to know.
Our third presenter was Roger Mount; he shared the genealogy items he created to take to Pennsylvania for his wife’s family reunion. They had 110 attendees and he brought the Family Tree Bingo Game to play with family members. What a great way to get people interested in their ancestors and hopefully share stories. The website http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/WhatsNew9.asp
demonstrates this new feature in LegacyFamilyTree version 9. He also created a book filled with pedigree charts, family group sheets, Census pages, WWI Draft Registrations, and Naturalization papers. So next time you have a family get together try to entice people with a game or interesting documents.
Lastly, our Seminar Director, Rick Frohling presented “CSI: Mason City, IL” the account of the unsolved murder of the Mr. and Mrs. Meisinger. The newspaper stories of this murder were filled with half-truths and changing details from day to day. Many people in and outside the family were under suspicion and under arrest for a time since a large sum of money (the exact amount changed with each story) was stolen. The story went nationwide to New York and California newspapers, far from this tiny town. Rick reminded everyone to search for morning and evening editions of newspapers since each could have different information.